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North Korea Denies Making $2bn from Cyber-Attacks

North Korea has denied allegations that it obtained $2bn by carrying out state-sponsored cyber-attacks on banks and cryptocurrency exchanges. 

Claims that the one-party republic had used “widespread and increasingly sophisticated” cyber-attacks to steal money to fund the development of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) were made in a confidential United Nations report submitted to the UN Security Council North Korea Sanctions Committee in July this year.

As reported by news agency Reuters in August, the report stated: “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea cyber actors, many operating under the direction of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, raise money for its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) programs, with total proceeds to date estimated at up to two billion US dollars."

On Sunday, North Korea's state-controlled news agency KCNA reported that a spokesperson for the National Coordination Committee of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) for Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism said: “The United States and other hostile forces are now spreading ill-hearted rumors that we have illegally forced the transfer of $2bn needed for the development of WMD programs by involving cyber actors.”

The spokesperson went on to liken “the fabrication of such a sheer lie” to “the same old trick as Hitler fascist propagandists used to cling to.” 

Chief among the allegations against North Korea is a claim that the country is deeply connected to hacking group Lazarus, which has been linked to an $81m cyber-heist that targeted the Bangladesh central bank in 2016. The group was also accused by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation of hacking into Sony Pictures in 2014.

According to the NCC spokesperson's statement, the DPRK's accusers fabricated the cybercrime allegations to justify the use of sanctions against the country. 

The spokesperson said: “Such a fabrication by the hostile forces is nothing but a sort of a nasty game aimed at tarnishing the image of our Republic and finding justification for sanctions and a pressure campaign against the DPRK.”

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